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Time stands still in 1,500m

Published:Thursday | September 24, 2015 | 9:00 AMHubert Lawrence, Contributor
Fedrick Dacres
O'Dayne Richards
Kenya’s Julius Yego.
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It's almost funny. Jamaica's 1,500 metres national records turned 20 and 21 this year. Given that we view it as a 'non-traditional' event, it's no wonder time stands still for Jamaica in the metric mile.

Twenty-one years ago, Yvonne Graham, the German wife of ace hurdler Winthrop, set off as pacemaker in the renowned Brussels meet. Her assignment was simply to pull the field along. Led by Olympic champion Hassiba Boulemerka of Algeria, the big names ignored Graham. So, instead of dropping out, she kept on going ... all the way to a national record of 4 minutes 04.35 seconds.

She lowered the mark to 4 minutes 01.84 the following year.

In the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada, England-based Jamaican Steve Green held on to fifth place and a national record of his own, 3.39.19. That was 21 years ago.

Last year, Kenya clinched a position at the top of the Commonwealth Games medal table when Julius Yego beat Olympic champion Keyshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago in the javelin. That historic win gave the Kenyans a tenth gold medal to Jamaica's nine.

 

Kenya on top

In Beijing, he did it again with a throw of 92.72 metres. That was enough to make him the third longest thrower of all time. The end result? Kenya beat Jamaica again by one gold medal and topped the table.

There was another Kenyan first when Nicholas Bett won the men's 400 hurdles in a time not far off Winthrop's 23-year-old Jamaican record.

Jamaica has recently made progress in the throws, adding to the accomplishments of Trecia-Kaye Smith, James Beckford and latterly Kimberly Williams in the jumps. Brilliant work has elevated O'Dayne Richards into the company of the world's best. The same can be said of Pan-American discus winner Fedrick Dacres and Commonwealth bronze medallist Jason Morgan.

Still, we need to dig in and develop our 'non-traditional' events. Just think. If I told you a year ago that a Kenyan would be world javelin champion, you'd think I spiked my Saturday soup with some white rum. If I told you that Kenya would also win the men's 400 hurdles, you'd think I had a smoke for dessert to open up my 'overstanding'.

It is a stretch of the imagination to see Jamaicans beating the likes of Asbel Kiprop and Genzebe Dibaba in the 1500 metres. However, there was a time when Jamaicans weren't world class in anything other than the sprints. So before our non-traditional event records gather more dust, it's time to open up our collective overstanding.

- Hubert Lawrence has taken notes at track side since 1980.